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Full text of "[untitled] The American Historical Review, (1899-12-01), pages 337-338"

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Du Cause de Nazelle : Memoir es 337 

It is like turning from black night to the splendors of rosy dawn and 
the movement of light toward high noon, to enter into the brilliant 
period of Prince Henry, "our golden era" as the Dutch love to call it. 
Here the author is as happy as he makes his readers, and his masterly 
chapters deserve to be read and re-read. Besides his lively pictures of 
home life, of war, of peace, of art and social improvement, we have a 
sketch of trade and commerce with the East which seems especially 
timely. One cannot dismiss this volume without especial notice and 
commendation of the chapter, or rather elaborate essay on the sources of 
Dutch history for the period, 1 559-1648. We know of nothing so full 
and so illuminating. With equal fairness and apparent grasp of the ma- 
terial in whole and in part, Dr. Blok presents the national Dutch, the 
Spanish, the Catholic Dutch, and the opposing sides in Netherlandish 
history. Dr. Blok, being still on the sunny side of life's meridian, may 
be able to finish the great work marked out by himself, which we sin- 
cerely hope. 

Memoires du Temps de Louis XIV., par Du Cause de Nazelle 
Publies avec une Introduction et des Notes par Ernest Daudet. 
(Paris : E. Plon, Nourrit et Cie. 1899. Pp. xxviii, 269.) 
The alleged author of these Mimoires was an officer whose only claim 
upon the attention of posterity is that he revealed to Louvois an obscure 
conspiracy which two or three desperate noblemen, including a Rohan, 
concocted against Louis XIV. in 1674. Although this conspiracy has 
been better known than some others which belong to the same reign, its 
precise objects are still not fully understood. M. Daudet has in an ap- 
pendix summarized the evidence which may be gathered from the records 
of the trial preserved in the French archives, but there is room for a dif- 
ference of opinion upon the value of certain confessions, notably those 
of the Dutch schoolmaster, Vandeh Enden, a spy in the service of the 
Spanish government, who, with the Sieur de Latreaumont, was the 
originator of the plot. The main purpose was to create a disturbance in 
Normandy, during which the Spaniards were to take possession of Quille- 
boeuf. Vanden Enden personally, according to his own story, sought in 
this way to do Holland's enemy all the harm he could. Latreaumont, a 
bankrupt adventurer, hungered for spoil ; and possibly it was spoil also, 
and revenge, which Louis de Rohan chiefly desired, although his fellow- 
conspirators dazzled him with promises of a restored Duchy of Brittany. 
Added to this there was talk of organizing a republic in Normandy, for 
which the Dutch pedagogue had sketched some laws, with the expecta- 
tion that all Frenchmen would hastily abandon the structure reared by 
the centuries and adopt in exchange the devices of such a pitiable group 
of schemers. M. Daudet seems to lay undue stress upon these things, 
which served to adorn an enterprise the most practical aim of which was 
to procure sufficient supplies of Spanish gold to repair two or three dis- 
ordered fortunes. 



338 Reviews of Books 

The Memoires of Du Cause add little to the story of the affair, even 
if what they do contain is trustworthy. The writer composed his work 
more than forty years after the event, a fact which M. Daudet does not 
seem to have noted, for he says they were written ' ' plusieurs annees 
apres." The tone of the author's avertissement would lead one to bring 
the date of composition still further down in the eighteenth century, but 
an interval of forty years is enough to dim a man's recollections. More- 
over, judging from the account in the Mimoires themselves, Du Cause 
knew little about the conspiracy except what he was able to overhear of 
a single interview between Vanden Enden and Latreaumont, important 
portions of which were inaudible to him. His account is, therefore, 
largely drawn from his conversations after the denouement. When he 
pretends to tell what was said by the Prince of Conde, Marshal Villeroy, 
and M. Le Tellier at a secret meeting with Louis XIV. , and explains how 
all this conflicting advice agitated the King's spirit, one wonders what 
avenues of information he possessed, so that he could speak with authority 
where the ordinary observer could go no further than a conjecture. M. 
Daudet has compared his testimony at the trial, covering his connection 
with the case, with what he relates in the Mimoires, and has found the 
two in complete agreement. This should strengthen one's confidence in 
other parts of the narrative. 

It is unfortunate that M. Daudet has not given the history of the 
manuscript, so that the reader might be guarded against the suspicion 
that it originated in the fertile brain of some eighteenth-century lawyer, 
whose inventiveness was provoked by the possibilities of the tale. The 
case long attracted legal minds, for as late as 1735 an important collec- 
tion of the documents was made by MM. de Chavannes and Berryer. 
The manuscript of the Memoires, it also appears, was in the archives of 
one whose ancestors belonged to the old French magistracy. And this is 
all that M. Daudet tells us of its history. 

M. Daudet thinks the more highly of Du Cause's veracity because of 
the frankness with which he speaks of his own misdeeds. But even if the 
relation of his own villanies is a work of piety, because it shows how 
humble an instrument Providence chose to save the Great King, what is 
to be thought of a man who in the calmer light of old age would blacken 
his mother's reputation by irrelevant details of her wickedness ? 

As a simple tale the book is successful. Its narrative, which goes 
straight on from one incident to another, and is well put together, steadily 
gains in interest, until toward the end the reader is a little wearied by 
the importance Du Cause gives himself because he revealed this curious 
conspiracy. He now has a grievance and ceases to be entertaining. 

Henry E. Bourne.